The IRS v. All Saints
Bacon is in the hot seat with the Internal Revenue Service who are threatening to revoke his church's status as a non-profit due to what the government calls improper campaigning during teh last presidential election. Specifically at issue was a sermon by a guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. George F. Regas, who was the previous pastor of the church. Regas October 31, 2004, sermon was titled "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush."
The first words of that sermon were: "Jesus does win! I don't intend to tell you how to vote." And he never did tell the people in the pews how to vote. The sermon was critical of both candidates for their views on war and poverty yet the IRS noted the statements against the President as politicking on behalf of John Kerry.
To read what the Rector has to say about the controversy, you can see the Adobe PDF of his sermon Neighbor Love is Never Neutral which begins,
I want to begin this sermon by once again expressing my gratitude to the Internal Revenue Service. Those brothers and sisters really know how to shine a spotlight on a church and swell the numbers of worshipers.He went on to say,
The current administration of the IRS apparently thinks that religious organizations should stay neutral when political issues are concerned.What that thinking totally misses is that we do not have a choice about whether or not to be neutral in the face of dehumanization, injustice, and violence. Our faith mandates that always stopping short of endorsing or opposing political candidates, the church can neither be silent nor indifferent when there are public policies causing detriment to the least of these.I believe that the statements I have read from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena are dead on accurate that the church should neither be silent in the face of injustice nor should it endorse candidates. I also believe that the IRS needs to be neutral on preaching as to take a position seems to break the barrier between church and state in a way that should concern people of any faith and any political persuasion. What do you think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church